This book is aimed at those coming to the study of western European medieval history for the first time, both students and general readers. Rather than being a standard history of the period or a history of medieval scholarship, Thinking Medieval examines the place of the Middle Ages in modern popular culture, exploring the roots of the stereotypes that appear in films, on television and in the press, and asking why they remain so provocative and persistent. The book also asks whether 'medieval' is indeed a useful category in terms of historical periodization. It investigates some of the challenges posed by the evidence for medieval life and the ways in which it has survived. The book concludes with an exploration of the relevance of medieval history today, including the ways in which the memory of the crusades has been exploited in the post- 9/11 world.